Here's Why You Should Stop Shaving Under Your Arms

Shaving body hair is an extremely personal choice. Throughout history, hairlessness has been considered a sign of cleanliness, purity, and fertility, and while it's been documented that people have been removing body hair since the Stone Age, women shaving their body hair didn't become a social norm in the U.S. until the 20th century, according to CNN

These days, shaving is typically viewed as an aesthetic choice — but one that many still feel pressured into by society. Women especially are encouraged to remove their underarm hair. In fact, it's still considered so taboo that the majority of shaving commercials targeted toward women don't even show body hair — instead, the model in the ad is seen sliding a razor across already hairless skin (via HuffPost). 

Despite any social norms that still exist, it's entirely up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to keep their body hair. But a factor that's often overlooked is the benefits of choosing not to shave. Sure, it's much more convenient to not have to worry about pesky underarm hair, but it also may help you in other, more significant ways.

Underarm hair helps protect your skin from chafing

As dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D. pointed out to Well + Good, body hair serves an evolutionary purpose. "Hair prevents skin from irritation when it rubs against itself, protecting from chaffing in many areas of our body, especially in the underarm area," she said. While chafing under the arms can often occur during activities like running or walking, underarm hair can help to reduce friction, protecting the skin from things like rashes and ingrown hairs, which can be extremely uncomfortable and hard to get rid of.

This lack of irritation is one of the primary benefits of not shaving your underarms. Not only will you be able to avoid annoyances like razor burn and ingrown hairs, but you'll also decrease your risk of certain infections. The micro-tears caused by shaving leave you susceptible to infections like streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus, and MRSA, per Cosmopolitan.

Underarm hair could help you attract the love of your life

Your love life might also benefit from not shaving your underarms. A 2013 study claimed that one of body hair's major functions is to release pheromones, a.k.a. our natural scents that play a role in our attraction to others. The study also showed that males secrete a pheromone called androstadienone from their underarm sweat, which increases sexual desire. The pheromones emitted by women have yet to be studied in depth, but as Byrdie points out, that doesn't mean women's pheromones behave differently.

As explained by The Cut, there are scent glands in your armpits, and growing the hair out actually helps spread that scent "as a kind of human fragrance diffuser." While that might sound gross, the outlet cited a 2001 study that found that how someone smells is one of the most important features people look for in a partner.

Letting your armpit hair grow can help you stay cool

While some people think that shaving your underarm hair will keep your pits cooler by removing what is seen as an unnecessary layer, this is a myth. According to the Dollar Shave Club, humans would need a lot more underarm hair for it to make us overheated, or even to provide an extra layer of warmth. Citing a study called "Hair Density, Wind Speed, and Heat Loss in Mammals," the outlet stated that "skin needs to be covered by at least 1,000 hairs per square centimeter in order for the hair to effectively reduce heat loss."

In fact, leaving your armpit hair to grow freely can actually help keep you cool. That might sound counterproductive, but hear us out. According to Samantha Prior, who teaches at the University of Limerick's Department of Biological Sciences, there are a lot of theories about why humans have armpit hair and haven't shed it over our many years of evolution. Prior explained to Beaut that one of those theories has to do with your body temperature. 

Per Prior, underarm hair "repels sweat when we get too hot" and "also soaks up the sweat and moisture that develops in the underarm area aiding in ventilation." Who knew? 

More and more people are embracing the hair under their arms

If you're thinking about letting your armpit hair grow in but are afraid of how society will react, know that you won't be alone. More and more people are embracing their armpit hair these days, including a lot of celebs. 

The wave of celebrities who are showing off their unshaved underarms goes back decades. Vogue noted that Sophia Loren flaunted some armpit stubble in the 1950s, while Julia Roberts rocked underarm hair on the red carpet in 1999. 

As actress Bella Thorne wrote in a piece for InStyle, body hair is totally normal and no one should be ashamed of it. "Guys feel more manly when they have body hair, right?" she wrote. "So what's the problem with a woman wanting to feel more manly ... Whether I'm a tomboy or a rebel, I'm comfortable with it, so why shouldn't you be? If you really want my legs and armpits shaved so badly, you can do it yourself."

Letting your underarm hair grow in saves time

If nothing else, you'll save time and money if you stop shaving under your arms. Just think of the money spent on razors and shaving cream, not to mention all the time spent shaving your armpits and nursing razor bumps, in-grown hairs, and cuts. A 2009 survey from American Laser Centers (via Glamour) found that, on average, women will shave nearly 8,000 times in their lives. That's a huge chunk of time dedicated to removing body hair but it also comes with quite the bill: $10,000 on various shaving items. 

As artist Candace Bird told Refinery 29 of their decision to stop shaving, "It is a giant pain in the a** to shave. It's itchy. I get ingrown hairs. Six hours after shaving and I've got gross, prickly stubble." Jacinda Pender agreed, telling the outlet that shaving under the arms is an unnecessary hassle. "It's a personal preference of mine, which ties into laziness, to be truthful," she said.

Skipping shaving under your arms could make your to-do list just a bit more manageable. Ultimately, the decision to shave your underarms is yours alone — but the benefits of having body hair are certainly worth taking into consideration.